WGTC: As the film was being made, did Jason’s vision match the utter insanity you pictured in your own head when you first read the word “Deathgasm?”
Ant Timpson: We just told them to go for broke, really. If you’re going to do something like that, you have to embrace it fully. You can’t half-ass it. You can’t try and play in both worlds by trying to please horror fans or others. It’s called Deathgasm. You have to make that film. The script was done with his wife Sarah rather fast, and it was really funny. We started workshopping it when production grew closer, there were lots of rehearsals where we could see what was working in terms of lines and timing, but from the start we all thought it was funny as hell. Really just Jason’s voice – he based a lot of Deathgasm on his own life, which sounds nuts, but he was Brodie. He came from a fundamentalist background, and metal was that escape from the entrapment he felt.
WGTC: You host a lot of competitions in New Zealand that lead to projects, with Deathgasm being a prime example. Is this how you like to search for films to back? Do you find this process easier than going out and getting involved in a project at other stages?
Ant Timpson: The films I want to get involved in are always talent first, because you spend a lot of time with these people, and you want to get on that base personality level. You trust their talents. You hopefully find a script that gels, start from scratch, bring it to the right people, and go from there. But really, I just want to be attached to stuff that’s fuckin’ cool.
WGTC: He says wearing the Deathgasm hat and Turbo Kid t-shirt…
Ant Timpson: Well this is just me selling myself at all times, I’m just a walking billboard for my stuff. [Laughs] But you’ve just got to get out there. I’m a whore on Twitter. It’s confusing when you have multiple films going on at the same time. You start crossing over.
WGTC: So is this the birth of a new era of crazy New Zealand horror films that we’re going to see more and more of?
Ant Timpson: In the past, like I said, “genre” has been a dirty word in New Zealand. You couldn’t get funding, so we really didn’t make those movies back home. Which is funny, because we made a film called The Irrefutable Truth About Demons – I think it was called The Truth About Demons in the US – and it was our most successful return on investment ever in New Zealand. But in terms of domestic box office, they just never freakin’ work. Even Cabin In The Woods didn’t get a theatrical. That’s how hard it is to get good horror on the screen.
WGTC: Is it a cultural thing?
Ant Timpson: It’s an exhibitor thing. I think it became a perception that those types of films fail, and now everyone believes it, so now they don’t put the proper work in to get them out to an audience. It’s self perpetuating. It’s a really difficult cycle that we’re in. It’s rare. You’ll get the Paranormal Activity films, anything that’s a phenomenon in the US, but the small stuff is virtually unseen in New Zealand. It’s weird seeing Exists playing, and you’re like “What the hell! There’s a Bigfoot movie playing in a plex?!” It’s so exciting for us. We all tear down and check it out because it’s such a treat. We’re fighting that, and that’s why we try to make films that’ll play to broader audiences. Taika Waititi’s film What We Do In The Shadows is really going crazy everywhere, which is setting the benchmark really.
WGTC: So are you hard at work on The ABCs Of Death 3 yet?
Ant Timpson: Tim [League] and I are thinking about it. At the end of the day, it’s a financial thing. Sequels always drop down a little bit from the first film, and [The ABCs Of Death 2] got pirated up the wazoo, so that sucked. We got pirated before VOD, even. Before our world premiere. That’s the worst case scenario. That’s the Expendables scenario. It really hurt us a lot, so we’ll have to crunch the numbers, talk to Magnolia Pictures, and see what’s going on. I love the aspect of working with so many directors, because you get to hang out with those guys, and maybe there’s other projects that come out of it – like Turbo Kid. There are a couple other directors I’m talking to now, about doing something outside The ABCs world.
WGTC: Are there any other madcap ideas you’re looking to explore or work on?
Ant Timpson: Tim [League] and I are collaborating again, with Elijah Wood’s production company SpectreVision, Ben Wheatley, and Andy Starke in the UK. We’re all getting together to make an independent film called The Greasy Strangler. It’s from one of the directors on The ABCs Of Death 2, Jim Hosking, and we all think Jim is one of the best unknown gems out there. This is going to be his first feature, and the script has literally made us all wet our pants collectively. It’s funny as hell, disturbing, weird, and it’s something that no sane person would put money into, which is why it has to be made.
That concludes our interview, but I’d like to thank Ant Timpson for taking some time out of his South By Southwest schedule to chat!